Traditional system of medicine : (unani medicine)

Unani medicine originated from Greece under the patronage of Bukrat Hippocrates (460-377) BC. Aristotle Galen established its foundation. This system of Greek origin was further carried to Persia (Iran) where it has been improved by Arabian physicians.
The materia medica of unani medicine is derived from many herbs and the final preparation for administration includes pills, syrup, confections and alcoholic extracts, minerals or metalloids such as gold, silver, tin, lead, mercury, arsenic are also employed.
Books like Hamdard Pharmacopoeia Pakistan 1969 have brought together many of the recipe used by Hakims for centuries. The modern germ therapy is infact a reflection of views of unani physicians.
In India unani physicians paid special attention to medicinal herbs found in India and wrote books on the therapeutic qualities of these herbs. India has produced eminent unani physicians.


Human body is considered to be made of the following seven components (Umore-Tabia). Each having close relation to and direct bearing on the health of an individual and is therefore necessary for a Hakim to take all these factors of human entity into consideration for arriving at a correct diagnosis and deciding the line of treatment.
Seven components are responsible for body constitution and its health as well as diseased condition. These are

1. Elements (Arkan): Human body consists of four elements namely air, fire, water, and earth. These actually symbolize four states of matter they have their temperaments
Air - Hot and Moist
Water-Cold and Moist
Earth -Cold and dry
Fire- Hot and dry

2. Temperament (mizaj): the interaction of elements produces various states which in their turn determine the temperament of an individual and it is of paramount importance to keep in mind temperament of individual while prescribing course of treatment.

3. Humours (akhlat): These are fluids which the human body obtains from food and include various hormones and enzymes. These fluids are responsible for maintaining the moisture of different organs of body and also provide nutrition to body.

4. Organs (Aaza): these are various organs of human body, the health or disease of each individual organ affects the state of health of the whole body. Organs of primary importance in unani medicine are brain, liver, heart, and testicles/ovaries.

5. Spirits: these are considered to be the life force and therefore given importance in diagnosis and treatment of disease s. they are defined as carriers of different powers.

6. Faculties (life, energy and actions): includes natural power, power of metabolism and reproduction.

Power of metabolism is completed by two factors
Nutritive power, growing power-responsible for construction and growth of human organism.

Psychic power- its seat is the brain which conveys impressions or sensations which brings about movements as a response to sensation.

Vital power- that maintains long life and enables all organs to accept the effect of psychic power.
Seat of this power is

* 1. Heart -the centre of vital life
* 2. Brain- the centre of sensation and movement
* 3. Liver-the centre of nutrition.

7. Functions: this includes movement and functions of various organs of body every organ has a primary innate faculty for nutrition by which it absorbs, retains assimilates and integrates the food material into tissues and excretes the wastes.

Principles of diagnosis:
According to unani system the states of body are grouped under 3 heads
• Health-the bodily functions are carried normally
• Disease-opposite of health, in which one or more functions or forms of organs are at fault.
• Neither health nor disease-there is neither health nor disease as in the case of old people or convalescence.

Disease are classified as
1. Simple-that completes its course without complications. It involves simple organs, compounds or both.

2. Complex: does not mean simultaneous occurrence of several diseases in one person but number of abnormal conditions in the form of single disease.

In unani tibb, great reliance is placed on investigating the cause thoroughly for proper diagnosis. The pulse, urine and stool are employed as general indications to diagnose the various states of the body.
Pulse: It is a movement of expansion and contraction in the receptacles of the vital force (heart and arteries). The purpose of this movement is to condition the vital force with light air (oxygen from lungs)
Pulse is felt by palpating the radial artery at the wrist for three distinct reasons, as it is more accessible and it is in direct continuity with heart and third quite close to it.

Features of pulse:
Unani physicians have laid down ten features for examining the pulse. In this way pulse varies in respect of its
1. Size: that is in degree of expansion as estimated by its height, length and breadth.
2. Strength: strength of pulse beat as felt by fingers.
3. Velocity of pulse beat depending on duration of movement
4. Quality of vessel wall.
5. Fullness or emptiness of artery.
6. Quality of pulse regarding its hot or cold condition
7. Constancy and inconstancy regarding various features.
8. Frequency of pulse beats.
9. Regularity or irregularity of beats.
10. Rhythm of pulse.

Urine: following conditions have to be observed so that the information derived out of it is reliable.
• The specimen should of overnight urine.
• Urine should be collected in clear and colorless bottle in the morning on empty stomach and not retained for too long after collection.
• The individual should not have used diuretics or any substances which color the urine.
• Physical exertions should be avoided as these too color the urine red or yellow ex. Fasting, lack of sleep, fatigue hunger etc color urine.
• Urine gives direct information only about functional conditions of liver, urinary organs and vascular system.
Points to be noted about urine are:

Colour: dark or orange colour indicates jaundice
Density: thickness or thinness of urine.
Turbidity: due to suspended particles.
Sediment: refers to deposited as suspended matter.
Quantity: scanty due to excess perspiration and diarrhea large urine are sign of recovery.
Odour: odourless

Stools: are observed for quantity, consistency, colour, froth, time and flatus.

Quantity: large stools indicate abundance of humours scanty their deficient
Consistency: liquid stools point to indigestion or obstruction .dry food and constipation make stool dry, also passed during polyuria and excess heat in the body.
Colour: stools are normally faint yellow colour; darker shades show excess of bile. Pale indicates defective digestion. Stools with pus indicate rupture of an abcess.stools of unusual colours is unhealthy.
Froth: stools which instead of being firm are puffed are a sign of disease.
Time: If stools pass quickly, there is disturbance such as excess bile or weakness of retentive faculty. If delayed there is either weak digestion, cold temperament of intestine or excess of moisture.
Flatus: Stools are passed noisily with elimination of wind.

Curative treatment:
Disease is an abnormal state of human body which disturbs normal functions. Disease may thus be a disorder of temperament or of structure.
Stages of Disease:
Onset: stage when disease has just appeared, remains stationary and does not advance to any extent.
Increment: disease goes on increasing until it becomes severe.
Acme: stage during which disease reaches its height and remains stationary.
Decline: stage during which disease begins to subside and with passage of time starts decreasing in intensity.

Unani medicine has following modes of treating an ailment, depending upon nature of ailment and its cause

1. Regimental therapy:
Unani physicians attempts to use simple physical means to cure a disease but for certain specific and complicated disease he applies special techniques.
Some are as follows:
Venesection: To bring down hypertension.
Stimulation of metabolism.

Sweating: hot fomentation (dry and wet bath with warm water) massage and keeping the patient in a room and blowing hot air are some methods of diaphoresis.
Diuresis: T his method is used in cases of diseases of heart lungs and liver.

Turkish bath: Hot bath is generally applied for curing diseases like paralysis.

Massage: Soft massage is sedative and relaxant it relaxes muscles and softens the skin.

Cauterization: Pathogenic matters which are attached to some structures are removed or resolved. It is applied to prevent spread of destructive lesions to arrest hemorrhage.

Cupping: Purifies the skin and underlying tissues, removes only thin blood.

Leaching: Applications of leeches is most useful in treatment of skin diseases such as ring worm, freckles and moles.

2. Dietotherapy:
Unani medicine lays great stress on treating certain ailments by administration of specific diets or by regulating quality and quantity of food.

3. Pharmacotherapy:
Natural drugs like plants minerals and of animal origin are widely used:
Groups of drugs according to quality
First group contains drugs with hot temperament such as heat producing drugs.
Second group contains cold drugs like refrigerants, repellents and anaesthetics.
Third group comprises moist drugs, lubricant etc.
Fourth group theses are drugs like drying agents, astringents.

Forms and shapes: powders, tablets, decoctions, distillates, sharbat, perfumes etc.,
Unani physicians were pioneers in surgery and developed their own instruments and techniques. The generals principle of Al Qanon serves as an introductory course in techniques of diagnosis and treatment and act as a key study of unani tibb for research.

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